Healthy Body, Healthy Mind


Healthy Body, Healthy Mind Read More Donate


We have teamed up with the Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) and Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke on a new initiative, ‘Healthy Body, Healthy Mind, to raise awareness of the importance of keeping both your mental and physical health in good shape. 

Noel McKee, a firefighter based at Whitla St fire station in North Belfast, is undertaking a series of marathon walks across each county in Northern Ireland in support of the Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) ‘Healthy Body Healthy Mind’ campaign in partnership with local mental health charity, MindWise and Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke. He is hoping to complete six marathons over six days in six counties.

The Healthy Body, Healthy Mind campaign is raising awareness of the importance of looking after both your physical and mental health. As a Firefighter for over 30 years and a trained counsellor, Noel knows only too well the links between physical and mental well-being.

As part of the Healthy Body Healthy Mind campaign, Noel has already completed a ‘Station to Station; cycle to all 68 Fire Stations in Northern Ireland, run a marathon in Amsterdam and recently swam a marathon distance, completing 1704 lengths of the pool over 8 days.

His next challenge is ‘Walking Out of the Darkness’ – a marathon length walk each day for six consecutive days, taking in each county in NI –which will begin in Co. Fermanagh on Sunday 18 March and finish in Co. Down on Friday 23 March.

Noel, who is passionate about the benefits of exercise on our mental health explains more about his latest fundraising and awareness raising effort - “I’ve been a therapeutic counsellor in the community for many years, and what I’ve seen time and time again is that physical ailments can have a big impact on our mental health, and vice versa. I believe that that good physical health can help us to be more resilient and help improve our mental health”.

Although Noel will be walking a marathon distance each day, he aims to make the walk easier for people to come and join him for all or part of the route in each county by having the route laid out in manageable shorter sections. – “Sometimes, life can seem a bit of a marathon, but if you break it down into little bits, then it’s much more manageable. The clocks will be going forward the day after I finish, which can be a real boost for so many especially after the long, hard winter that we’ve all just experienced. It’s the chance to leave winter behind and come out of the darkness. Everyone is welcome to join me on any part of the walks throughout the week, I’d encourage everyone to get out and about more to improve their mental and physical health after all sometimes a simple walk and a chat is all it takes to help improve someone’s day.

Edward Gorringe, Chief Executive of Mindwise said – “We're incredibly proud to be part of the Healthy Body, Healthy Mind initiative. Physical health and mental health are intrinsically linked. Poor physical health can lead to an increased risk of developing mental health problems, and poor mental health can negatively impact on physical health. Noel has been an amazing ambassador for the initiative, and we want to thank him and NIFRS for getting out there and spreading the message so effectively. We're fullybehind Noel in this exciting new challenge. By working in partnership with NIFRS and Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke, we've raised awareness in the vital links between mental and physical health, and how people can support both their body and their minds in staying healthy".

Declan Cunnane, Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke commented, “Just over half of adults (55%) meet the guidelines of 150 minutes of physical activity a week. This Marathon Walk which Noel is undertaking will hopefully encourage people to become more active and look after their mental and physical health. Physical activity is so important for both mental and physical health and can help reduce the risk of chest, heart and stroke illnesses.”

· Daily Itinerary (All walks are detailed on the Walk NI website –

Date County Route

Sunday 18 March - 10am Fermanagh Florence Court – 4 laps of the red trail

Monday 19 March - 9am Armagh Portadown – Newry Canal Path

Tuesday 20 March - 9am Tyrone Branny Ramble, Dungannon – 3 laps

Wednesday 21 March – 9am Londonderry / Derry Lough Foyle / Port Path coastal walk

Thursday 22 March – 9am Antrim Lagan Tow Path – starting at Whitla/Central Station to Lisburn and return

Friday 23 March -9am Down Holywood to Bangor Coastal Path and return

Donations can be made through Firefighter Noel McKee’s Just Giving Page - or by Texting RED to 70660 to donate £3*.




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